Vettel: Arrivabene ‘the right man’ to lead Ferrari in F1

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Sebastian Vettel has expressed his confidence in Ferrari Formula 1 chief Maurizio Arrivabene amid speculation about the team principal’s future, calling him “a strong leader”.

Arrivabene took over as Ferrari team principal ahead of the 2015 season, and has led the Italian marque through its most successful campaign for almost a decade this year.

Despite having the fastest car heading into the season and Vettel taking four victories, a capitulation in the last six weeks has seen Ferrari drop out of the race for both F1 titles, with Lewis Hamilton set to win the drivers’ championship for Mercedes this weekend.

Ferrari’s failure to win its first title since 2008 this year has led to questions about Arrivabene’s future, but Vettel was quick to defend his team boss in Thursday’s FIA press conference ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix.

“Look at the results, look at where Ferrari was after 2014, how competitive Ferrari was in 2014 and how – sorry to say – what miserable shape it was,” Vettel said.

“The spirit was down, so I think he’s the key person responsible for bringing most of that back and to make the team grow, to open things up, to change things that have been set like that for 20 years before that, just because they used to be like that.

“I think he has a very innovative and creative way of thinking. So I think he’s the right man, he’s a very strong leader, I think he’s well respected – I know he’s well respected by all the people.

“Absolutely I’m a fan. As I said, the most important thing is that if you look at the result, it’s coming. Obviously this year we would like it to be a bit different, especially towards the end but these things happen, we’re still growing and we set ourselves the target at the very beginning to grow and to do something new, something different and we’re still on that journey.

“Obviously the expectations are always high, you finish second in the championship, the year after you want to win, you don’t manage to do that but I think where we’ve gone, ’15 to ’16, especially through ’16 and then for ’17, things are going and heading the right way and he’s a key person in that.”

Eriksson snatches Macau Formula 3 pole from Norris

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Joel Eriksson snatched pole position for Saturday’s qualifying race ahead of the Macau Grand Prix after a thrilling fight with McLaren youngster Lando Norris and Ferrari junior Callum Ilott.

Norris headed into the second stage of qualifying on provisional pole after lapping almost a second faster than any other driver in Thursday’s first opening session, and remained in contention early in Q2.

Norris was the first driver to dip into the 2:10s with a time of 2:10.744, only for Eriksson to go 0.024 seconds faster minutes later and snatch pole away.

Despite a later effort to try and reclaim pole, Norris was unable to improve his time, and opted to remain in the pits for the final five minutes of the session after using up his allocated tires.

Ilott was the final driver to put in a serious bid for pole position, falling 0.09 seconds short with his final qualifying lap to sit third on the grid for the qualifying race.

Maximilian Gunther claimed fourth place for Prema Powerteam ahead of Ferdinand Habsburg and Dan Ticktum, with Mick Schumacher taking P7.

Yuhi Sekiguchi wound up eighth despite a late crash that brought out a red flag, while Sergio Sette Camara and Guanyu Zhou completed the top 10 positions in qualifying.

Saturday’s qualifying race will help form the grid for Sunday’s main event, the 64th Macau Grand Prix.